The role of an actuary is vital in the administration of retirement plans. Actuaries are counted on to manage assets, determine the liabilities of the plan, calculate contributions to be made, and examine the feasibility of benefit increases. The actuary also analyzes data to determine the likelihood of an event taking place. One event likely to be examined by an actuary is the probable number of workers who will likely collect disability benefits available through a retirement plan. The financial health of a retirement plan and ultimately its’ participants is dependent on the work conducted by the plan actuary.
Who serves serves as actuary to the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan? According to the plan’s filing with the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor, Aon Consulting serves as the plan actuary. Patrick Ryan is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Aon Corporation, while Andrew McKenna is a member of Aon’s Board of Directors. SportsBusiness Journal reports that Ryan and McKenna bought 20 percent of the Chicago Bears in 1990.
It is a conflict of interest for Ryan and McKenna’s company to determine the amount that NFL owners must contribute to fund NFL players’ pension and disability benefits. Both Ryan and McKenna are owners of a team who must make contributions into the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan. The NFL Retirement Plan’s filing with the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor does not acknowledge this relationship.
There are six voting members of the NFL Retirement Board. Three of the members are appointed by the NFL Management Council and three members are appointed by the NFLPA. Why would the three NFLPA appointed members of the Retirement Board agree to delegate their power to the Aon Corporation, a company founded and directed by an NFL team owner? If the three NFLPA appointed trustees opposed delegating their power to the Aon Corporation a new retirement plan actuary would have to be chosen.
It is the responsibility of current players, the NFLPA’s Board of Player Representatives, to select the NFLPA’s three Retirement Board members. It is clear that the NFLPA’s current three members of the Retirement Board are not acting in the active players nor the retired players best interest by choosing an NFL team owner to act as the retirement plan actuary. The NFLPA will be relying on actuarial data when negotiations for benefits take place during the next round of collective bargaining. It is a necessity to have a truly independent actuary in place so players can negotiate with the owners on a level playing field.
- Charles Chandler of The Charlotte Observer reports that Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, “who chairs the House subcommittee probing the concerns of NFL retirees, says she isn’t satisfied the league and union have done enough to assist former players and that she would ‘absolutely’ support threatening removal of the league’s antitrust exemption if necessary to spur action.”